E-Commerce Development: Best Practices to Distinguish Yourself from the Competition

E-Commerce Development Best Practices

10Jul
2017

Introduction

E-Commerce has been emerging at a great pace in the past few decades and since then there has been no looking back. Many organizations have been investing in this ever-growing E-Commerce industry to reap its benefits for their respective businesses. Features like faster loading page, great UX, easy cart building and secure transactions have been highly indispensable to every e-commerce websites like a basic requirement in e-commerce development companies. Now a day’s most of the e-commerce sites boast these features and yours may be one among those. But what would make you distinguish yourself from the players of the same category?  Are these criteria enough for the users to return to your website?  The answer is No, as there is a heavy competition in today’s market with a lot of sites selling the same products.  In this competitive world, there are lot many sites delivering these criteria. But what is that extra mile to be travelled to distinguish you from the flock and stand tall among the crowd?

Best Practices:

  • Better site search

When you are selling a product, it is necessary that it must reach the targeted users who are searching for it. Users who visit your site with a certain product in mind do not browse through the pages in search of it as it is taxing. Rather they just look for the search bar and run a search with the keywords for what they are particularly looking for. Providing Auto Complete search suggestions will increase the usability of site search. Note that the Search bar should be clearly visible in the website and all the images need to be optimized for improved search results.

  • Clearer and Larger product images

What is an e-commerce website without images? Images are the key to get products sold. The product images should be clearer and larger to catch the attention of the users. Providing a 360-degree view of the product is another added advantage. The products that could be zoomed on mouse hover enhance the usability of the website. A case study says that adding clarity to product pages and reducing visitor anxiety increases conversions by 34%. So always ensure that your website has larger high quality pictures of the 

  • Responsive site design

Users access your site through different devices. It may be a smaller screen of tablet or a smart phone or larger screen of a laptop. It is necessary for the website to adapt to the varying screen size without hassle. A responsive design has always boosted the conversion rate and usability of top ecommerce websites in the market.

  • Friendly Validation

 Having form validations wherever applicable in the webpage saves ample of time for the users to figure out what went wrong with the page. Validations can be shown to the user without erasing the details that were already entered by the user saving a lot of time and energy. If the page reloads with the data previously entered by the user missing, then it might lead to the user to abandoning the cart itself. Friendly validations should be part of all forms in the website. Imagine a clueless user who is trying to register into your site but is unable to do so because he missed to enter a combination of numbers and characters. Only a descriptive validation would stop him from leaving the site.

  • Using Cache for faster loading pages

Caching saves a lot of data and supercharges your site’s performance. It is always recommended to cache the data in both memory and disk. This is highly important for any e-commerce website since there are a lot of images in it which are of greater file size. Loading and reloading the same data without caching it would be time consuming and takes a toll on the bandwidth too. Imagine as an end user when you are waiting for 15 seconds to view a checkout button or a next page button. That would make the site less reliable, isn’t it? According to statistics 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. A 1 second delay in page response can result in 7% reduction in conversions. 

  • Use stored procedures

Stored procedures help to reduce a lot of traffic on the database. They make your database faster, more secure and easy to maintain. Use of stored procedures will improve faster performance.

  • Configured database

Equipping your database to handle the network traffic is essential. A great database that can handle a lot of read/write operations is necessary to handle the large number of user transactions in the e-commerce websites especially during the sale season. So, make sure that the database does not crash when there is heavy traffic as it causes loss of reputation to the business

  • Use of SSL

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is important for every e-commerce site as it protects and secures customer transactions and information. Care should be taken that the SSL is used only within the cart and not for the complete page as SSL page requests require more server cycles than non-SSL page requests. Also, note that SSIDs should not be visible in URL’s where it is irrelevant.

  • Using breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs in the website enhance navigation by making it clear to user on where they exactly are in a website. Therefore, breadcrumb is a great option for e-commerce websites, especially the ones with a lot of categories of products. This way the user understands where they are in the website. Breadcrumbs are essential in the checkout page too in-order to make checkout easier.

  • Consistent image size

It is always advisable to use a consistent image size in your product archives to make the page appealing to users. Inconsistent image size in the website reduces the charm of the website. A survey saw an increase in revenue by 17.1% after testing a site of 25,000 visitors with consistent image size. Make sure to show the product price in the archive too.

  • Visibility of Out of stock products 

Don’t hide the “out of stock” products from the website unless the product manufacturing has stopped. It is always advisable to provide an option for email and a “notify me” button to notify the users when the product comes back in stock. An email notification would then be sent to the customers who requested it when the product comes back in stock. In a case study, a company sent back in stock emails to customers and saw a 22.45% increase in conversion rate. We do not want to miss such a huge number, don’t we? 

 

HOW TO INCREASE ONLINE SALES

  • Adding A Security Badge to The Store:

 

It is ineluctable to gain user trust to enable them confidently share their information in your site. A lot of customers would be in two minds to confide their credit card information to an unreliable site. Adding a trust seal helps gain users to trust your website. The more popular the trust seal is, the more secure users would feel about the site. Sites having https link are also trusted by the users. A survey conducted by E-Consultancy showed that 48% of the shoppers look for the security badge to be reassured that their information is safe.

Security Badges

Security Badges - Courtesy: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ceblog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/trust-seals.png

  • Having an add review option for customers to add reviews

Stats say that 55% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision. Reviews have highly improved sales of products and it helps to build the trust factor of the product. Reviews help to develop customer trust and conversion rate. But it is extremely necessary to keep all reviews both positive and negative ones visible. If not for negative reviews, 90% customers think that the reviews are fake which would prove averse to the purpose.

  • Changing the content as per the season and trends

Content is one of the central deciding quotients to evaluate the quality of any e-commerce website. Interesting contents in your website can lure or retain customers to your website. It is necessary to change the site contents according to the season and trends. Say if winter is approaching, then the website can be themed according to the winter snowflakes and products relevant to winter can be highlighted.

  • Implement relevant product filters

Product filters which can filter the products based on the category, price, type, discount etc. would help the user find what specifically they are looking for rather than spending a lot of time in browsing all the products that are irrelevant to them.  The filters should be placed in a prominent place where the users can find them. Sorting option also makes a lot of difference to the website usability.

  • Checkout

The Statistic: 23% of users will abandon their shopping cart if they must create a new user account. Hence it is always necessary to keep in mind to have a guest account option for the users who are not willing to register rather than letting them abandon their cart during checkout.

 

  • Free shipping and creative coupons

28% of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected shipping costs. Providing free shipping or specifying the shipping clearly without surprising the customers at the last moment will help you convert visitors to buyers

 

  • Discounts and coupons

 Addition of coupons and discount offers will add more brownie points to the conversion rate. According to a survey 75% of the shoppers have used coupons. 80.4% of shoppers said their perception of a retailer would improve if the retailer offered mobile deals and coupons,” as reported by Mobile Commerce Daily.,54% of shoppers will purchase products left in shopping carts, if those products are offered at a lower price.

 

Related: Top Ecommerce Platforms 2017

Most Effective Holiday Sales PromotionMost Effective Holiday Sales Promotion - Pic courtesy: Stamps.com via CrazyEgg.

Wrapping Up:

Top e-commerce development companies have always adhered to the best practices to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Some of the best e-commerce sites in Middle East that stick to these standards include Souq.com, Algiftz.com, Alshop.com, Mumzworld.com. It is not inescapable that you implement all the points above because at the end of the day, what works well for your business can only be predicted by A/B testing. Top E-commerce development firms have always made it a point to listen to their customers’ cues along with the tips to improve their conversion rate. Business interest should be kept in mind to bring relevant changes that will help you decrease bounce rates. With all the best practices discussed, there’s nothing stopping you from being the market leader.

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